Chicago’s New Vegan Liberation Kitchen Is Cooking up the Food Industry’s Future


"Chicago vegan meat brand Upton’s Naturals combines its Upton’s Breakroom café with its doughnut shop Liberation Donuts into Liberation Kitchen, where it serves up vegan food, desserts, and support for emerging local brands."

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Upton’s Naturals Launches Vegan Holiday Roast Slices in Gravy

Refrigerated and Frozen Foods

"Upton's Naturals is bringing heat-and-eat convenience to the holiday table with new Vegan Holiday Roast Slices in Gravy." 

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Culinary Thrill Seeking

Port Arthur News

"...fava crumbles that give you the flavor and mouthfeel of taco meat."

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6 Plant-Based Meat Alternatives for Your Next Summer BBQ


“You can make a wonderfully messy pulled jackfruit sandwich instead of the usual pulled pork. Upton’s Naturals makes a tasty, not-too-sweet version that’s great on a soft bun with a scoop of coleslaw.” 

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Your Ultimate Guide to Vegan Summer Grilling

The Beet

"Upton’s Naturals' Plant-Based Updogs just might be your new favorite classic ballpark-style frank. They char up to perfection after just a few minutes on the grill."

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The Best Vegan Breakfast and Brunch Spots in Chicago

Time Out Chicago

For breakfast or brunch, you can’t go wrong with the Brekkie Bowl, a tofu scramble with hash browns, kale, tomato, bacon seitan and a truffle sriracha and cheese sauce, or the Breakfast Croissant with seasoned tofu, bacon seitan and vegan cheese.

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Hot Dog Taste Test

The Kitchn

 The Updog hot dog was superior in both flavor and texture. The links were thicker than some other plant-based hot dogs; once grilled they remained juicy and had a nice snap.

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Best Hot Dog Brands Ranked


"If you’re looking for a vegan dog that can hold its own against the flames and deliver the savory flavor you crave in a hot dog, this one fits the bill."

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The 17 Best Donut Shops in Chicago


"...this 100% animal product-free venture fries up revolutionary-minded concoctions on the daily, tickling the senses and fueling the good fight with options like rabble-rousing Balaclava, a plain cake donut hidden beneath a mask of sweet tahini glaze and topped with pumpkin seed baklava."

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Upton’s Naturals Debuts First Fava Bean Taco Crumbles


"Plant-based food company Upton’s Naturals has launched Fava Taco Style Crumbles, one of the first plant-based meat fillings made from fava beans."

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Upton’s Naturals Launches Fava Taco Style Crumbles


"Move over soy crumbles! There’s a new, vegan taco stuffer in town, and it’s made from fava beans. Introducing Upton’s Naturals Fava Taco Style Crumbles."

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The Real Difference Between Banana Blossom And Jackfruit

Mashed discusses the similarities and differences between two innovative meat alternatives, Banana Blossom and Jackfruit. 

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Best Healthy Side: Upton's Naturals Shredded Jackfruit

"If you're in the market for a plant-based item that you can use in all kinds of ways, Upton's Naturals Shredded Jackfruit seems to be the perfect solution. Whether you're making tacos, sandwiches, or simply need something to top on a salad, this lightly seasoned pack of jackfruit is the perfect alternative to shredded meat. It's packed with nutritional benefits and surprisingly low in calories."

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Upton's Naturals: 15 Years as Vegan Pioneers

Today's Grocer

Upton's Naturals celebrates its 15th year as a self-funded, vegan-owned meat alternatives brand. 

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Six Heirloom Foods That We’ve Stopped Eating, But You Should Add to Your Cart

Blue Zones

This Southeast Asian staple is becoming a trendy ingredient in American meatless dishes like jackfruit did during the vegan pulled pork craze a few years back. The banana blossom has a neutral taste and fish-flaky texture that soaks up other flavors, making it a natural choice for a fish substitute.

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Our 5 Favorite Boxed Vegan Mac and Cheeses


"...not only is it tasty (especially the bacon version), but it is also super convenient."

Liberation Donuts

TimeOut Chicago

“Based out of Upton's Breakroom, Liberation Donuts is a bakery that’s at the forefront of the vegan pastry revolution.”

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11 Popular Fake Bacon Products, Ranked Worst to Best

“The winner of the great fake bacon debate falls to Upton's Naturals.”

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Upton’s Naturals Succeeds the Slow and Steady Way

Food Navigator

“Unlike many other plant-based brands that have accepted outside investment to grow their business, Upton’s Naturals is entirely self-funded.”

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Upton’s Naturals: Making Vegan Food More Accessible

Daytime Chicago, WGN-TV

Dan & Nicole celebrate Upton’s Naturals’ 15th anniversary by cooking up fried Ch’eesy Bacon Mac for the Daytime Chicago team.

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19 Plant-Based Meat Brands Every Vegetarian Needs to Know

“If you haven’t given jackfruit a try, Upton’s Naturals will make you reconsider. The brand sells the pork-like fruit in a bunch of fun flavors, plus seitan-based products and a whole line of vegan meals.”

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Hot and Ready: Light Up the Grill this Summer with Vegan Hot Dogs

“Made from vital wheat gluten (no soy), Upton’s Naturals never fails to perfectly flavor their products and the Updog is no exception.”

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13 of the best vegan meat and fish substitutes to increase your daily protein


“No more rubbery, bland vegan hotdogs: Upton's Naturals' Updog elevated the hotdog game with this tasty, plump hotdog made from vital wheat gluten (aka seitan).”

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Plant-Based Foods Have Never Been Better. Here’s 28 To Try at Your Next Summer Cookout


“Upton’s Naturals was onto the texture of jackfruit before it became a go-to replacement for pulled pork; the plant-based food brand was the first in the U.S. to create a pre-seasoned version. Upton’s infuses the fiber-rich plant with paprika, chili and tomato paste for a succulent barbecue bite.”

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The 5 Best Plant-Based Hot Dogs to Eat at Your Weekend BBQ

The Beet

“One Updog is about one serving too few of these savory seitan dogs, crafted with yellow mustard seed, celery seed, garlic, natural hickory smoke concentrate, and more.”

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Banana Blossoms: The Trendy Plant-Based Seafood Substitute That Literally Grows on Trees

“If you enjoy eating jackfruit like BBQ pulled pork, your mind is about to be blown by the next big plant-based meat alternative for fish: banana blossoms…Whole Foods is jumping on the banana blossom trend, which you'll find sold by plant-based brand Upton’s Naturals in 6-ounce packages.”

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The Essential Vegan Guide to Grilling


“Upton’s Naturals’ sticky-sweet and smoky pulled pork replica is a wonderful complement to grilled onions and toasted buns. Get some char on those veggies then pile on the jackfruit!”

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These Healthier Hot Dogs Will Be Your Summertime Barbecue Go-Tos

Women's Health

“Vegans and vegetarians will love this RD-approved pick that’s made of seitan and contains 20 grams (!) of protein. It also has an authentic texture: not too firm, not too soft. Juuust right.”

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A Beginner's Guide to the Best Healthy Vegan Food Replacements for Meat, Fish, and Dairy


"This newly vegan writer enjoys Upton’s Naturals Jackfruit with homemade BBQ sauce in a taco or bun."

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Nicole Sopko: “We Continue to Fight for a Fair and Competitive Regulatory Environment That Allows the Plant-Based Foods Industry to Thrive”


Upton’s Naturals’ VP Nicole Sopko discusses her new role at the Plant Based Food Association and what’s next in the plant-based food category.

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The Classic Church Fish Fry Goes Vegan in West Town

Eater Chicago

“Vegetarians and vegans who crave the crunch of a battered piece of fish seem to be out of luck. That is, until now: Upton’s Breakroom, the vegan restaurant in West Town, is using banana blossoms to mimic the texture of fried whitefish.”

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The 15 Best Donut Shops in Chicago

“Attention Chi-town vegans: Your very own donut shop has finally arrived. Sharing a space with similarly veggie-friendly café Upton's Breakroom, this 100% animal product-free venture fries up revolutionary-minded concoctions on the daily, tickling the senses and fueling the good fight with options like rabble-rousing Balaclava, a plain cake donut hidden beneath a mask of sweet tahini glaze and topped with pumpkin seed baklava.”

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Banana Blossom Is the Vegan Fish Alternative Everyone Can Appreciate

“Step aside, jackfruit — there's a new plant-based protein alternative in town. Banana blossom, a common ingredient in South Asian cuisine, is the ultimate plant-based fish substitute.”

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We Tried It: Banana Blossoms, the Plant-Based Fish Alternative

“I didn't know anything about banana blossoms until Upton's Naturals introduced them to their product line. I tried my hand at banana blossom "fish" and chips…upon first bite, I really did feel like I was biting into a battered piece of fried fish.”

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The Pantry Reborn

Natural Foods Merchandiser

“Upton’s Naturals Chick & Noodle Soup: This vegan twist on a classic soup has all the nostalgia of the original, but none of the meat. Instead, generous pieces of Chick Seitan are mixed with carrots, celery, onion, rotini and aromatic herbs to make this hearty soup.”

9 Best Vegan Hot Dogs for Summer 2020 BBQs and Grilling

“Upton's Naturals has been making a big splash in vegan circles with its jackfruit products, but they also make a Chicago-style hot dog. These seitan franks pack 20g of protein into 170 calories and have a special algae-based coating that gives them a satisfying snap.”

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The 7 Best Plant-Based Meat Alternatives of 2021, according to a Dietitian


“Upton's Naturals Bar-B-Que Jackfruit satisfies the craving for a smoky, BBQ taste with a shelf-stable, high-fiber plant-based product. It's great on a sandwich, as a salad topper, folded into a quesadilla, or paired with a whole grain.”

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What Is Jackfruit and How Do I Cook with It?

“Unlike canned jackfruit, which can require hours of slow cooking to break up into a more shredded texture, Upton’s Naturals’ products only need to be heated up for a short amount of time before they are ready to serve.”

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What Is Seitan and How Do You Cook with It?

The Kitchn

“Because seitan is made entirely from wheat gluten, it is a good alternative if you’re suspicious of highly processed mock meats. Most varieties usually have only three or four very basic ingredients, with few additives, if any.”

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I Tried 11 Different Vegan Cheese Brands, and My Mind is Kind of Blown

“You may already be familiar with revolutionary plant-based power brand Upton's Naturals (they make killer vegan jackfruit and more), but their new Ch'eesy Mac is a game changer. Ready in 1 minute, this vegan mac 'n' cheese comes with a pouch of precooked pasta and a separate pouch of nutritional yeast-based creamy cheese sauce.”

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As Demand for Protein Increases, a Maker of Meat Alternatives Profits

Crain’s Chicago

“Upton’s Naturals caters not just to the protein-crazed, but also to Meatless Monday aficionados and others seeking minimally processed, non-soy meal alternatives with which to re-create traditional recipes. Thanks to colorful packaging emblazoned with a cartoon of a mustached Victorian gentleman, the company makes its vegan fare seem on-trend and at home among Whole Foods’ upscale offerings.”

The 16 Best Cheesy Vegan Snacks in Stores

Brit + Co

“Upton's Naturals has a line of delicious vegan meat products, and it was only a matter of time before they started conquering the faux cheese game too. Choose from a plain creamy mac and cheese or one that's dotted with meatless bacon for a little more oomph.”

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The Today Show

The hottest healthy food trends — and products — to try in 2018.

Good Housekeeping magazine reveals the hottest healthy food trends for 2018, including Upton’s Naturals’ Jackfruit!

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Things We’re Obsessed With

The Dr Oz Show

Upton’s Naturals’ Jackfruit is featured in Dr. Oz’s “Things We’re Obsessed With” segment. The team is wowed by how much it resembles meat!

Meet the World's Biggest Fruit – and the Company Using it to Change Vegan Food Options

Aabaco Small Business

"Jackfruit is just the latest breakthrough product from Upton’s Naturals. Based in Chicago, Upton’s Naturals is an independently-owned natural foods company that focuses on meat alternatives and vegan values."

Read this before you lug home that jackfruit

The Washington Post

“We use young, green, unripe jackfruit,” says Upton’s co-founder and vice president Nicole Sopko, “that hasn’t developed sweetness or seeds. People say its cooked texture is like that of shredded pork or poultry — and really, it’s been cooked [savory] for hundreds of years by different cultures in Southeast Asia.”

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Is Jackfruit Really the Pulled Pork of Vegans? (video)

Fox News

"Now, we love our pulled pork (and all types of BBQ), so we were a bit skeptical.  So, we decided to take Upton's Naturals BBQ flavor to the streets of New York City--and were kind of shocked by the response."

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In Just 48 Hours, a Chicago Live/Work Space Is Built from the Ground Up Using Concrete Panels


"An industrious Chicago couple set up shop in a historic manufacturing district almost overnight using prefab concrete panels."

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Upton's Naturals Driftwood Magazine

Kelly Peloza Photo/Driftwood Magazine

"The preliminary form of Upton’s started 10 years ago, and now exists as a three-story building in Chicago that was built from the ground up to house the seitan factory, Upton's Breakroom the restaurant, and a living space for president and VP, Dan Staackmann and Nicole Sopko. While based in Chicago, Upton’s is available across the U.S. and is becoming global with the release of the new jackfruit products."

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10 Power Couples Behind Some of Today’s Most Successful Vegan Establishments

Vegan Weddings HQ

"Dan: It’s nice to have something we’re so passionate about, in common. On behalf of the business, we enjoy traveling together, and other business owners and clients we meet along the way get to know us both, which is nice."

Praise Seitan! Upton's Naturals Expands

The MFA Blog -

"Not surprisingly, demand for Upton's products has expanded exponentially over the years. Now, the sultans of seitan are poised to move into a brand-new, 10,000-square-foot production space"

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Go Gluten Free? No, eat more of it

Crain's Chicago Business -

"Herbivores are core customers, but a growing number of "flexitarians"–carnivores eating more meatless meals–are buying alternatives made from wheat or soy."

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Of Slumlords and Satan: Specter in Baltimore and Chicago

Brooklyn Street Art Blog -

"My piece comments on how eating meat alternatives like Seitan is good for the environment."

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Famous Artist Beats Graffiti Artists to the Punch at a West Town Café

The Chicago Architecture Blog -

“I wanted to achieve a subtle concept of sustainability and clean air,” Specter said. “I also want it to enhance the building and be a design the residents of the neighborhood can enjoy.”

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Slaughterhouse-less Seitan Chicago -

"The stockyards' legacy, if just a shadow today, still remains. And yet here is Upton's Naturals. Staackmann, Sopko, and their burgeoning staff are penning a new, bloodless page in the city's history."

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Veg Out in the Breakroom at Upton's Naturals Chicago -

"In April, Upton’s Naturals’ president, Dan Staackmann, and vice president, Nicole Sopko, led me on a walking tour of their new facility—a three-story seitan manufacturing plant with a yoga studio, a rooftop garden, and a café named Upton’s Breakroom."

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Grand Ave New Home of an Instant Building in West Town

Our Urban Times -

"Concrete on a steel mesh, the 50,000 pound panels began rolling in on flatbed rigs around 9:30 a.m. to a small group of observers who were attempting to avoid freezing appendages."

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Compassionate Company Spotlight: Upton's Naturals

The MFA Blog -

"As we always like to point out, seitan is its own thing and conveniently has a meaty texture. We've tried to season ours similarly to popular meat products to offer those who miss them the opportunity to enjoy those tastes."

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Upton's Naturals Seitan Company (video)

Will Travel for Vegan Food -

"Have I mentioned that this is the most adorable vegan couple I’ve ever met?!"

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Empire of the Seitan

Chicago Reader -

"Staackmann's recipes skip the mystifying "isolated soy proteins" and "natural flavors" found in national brands, opting instead for "actual flavors, based on traditional recipes, with things like garlic, onion, and soy sauce.""

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Upton’s Naturals Arrives in South Africa With Plant-Based Bacon And Chorizo


"US-based plant-based meat pioneer Upton’s Naturals, best-known for introducing the first seasoned seitan and kick-starting the jackfruit food trend, just announced a cooperation with Africa’s premier go-to-market platform Infinite Foods to join its plant-based foods offering with three of its products."

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